How to Grill Polish Sausage

Kielbasa, or Polish sausage, has a satisfyingly garlicky flavor and a coarse texture. You'll find it made with ground pork, but some versions also contain ground beef or turkey, and seasoned with garlic, smoke flavoring and marjoram. Most kielbasa is fully cooked before packaging, but grilling it caramelizes the meat and enhances its smoky flavor.

Grilling Whole

Grilling precooked sausage only reheats the kielbasa, so you have leeway in how you do it. To prevent the casing from splitting when it hits the grill, place it on the grill rack with a low- to moderate-heat level. Lay the whole sausages toward the cooler section of the grill, usually the outer areas, or on an elevated rack about 9 inches from the heat source -- if your grill has one. No need to parboil precooked Polish sausage before laying it on the grill as it's already precooked.

Fresh Sausage

Fresh Polish sausage is raw, so you must cook it thoroughly. While you can put a fresh sausage on the grill, it'll take a while to cook through, and the casing may shrink as the meat expands -- leading to oozing and splitting. Aim for a low heat to slowly grill fresh sausages; otherwise, the exterior burns, and the interior remains raw.

To ensure your sausage cooks thoroughly, and to avoid splitting, parboil the sausages first. Lay the sausages in boiling liquid -- beer, broth or water -- and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Then you can place them on the grill for just enough time to create grill marks.

Signs of Doneness

Precooked sausages are done after about 10 minutes; raw sausages cooked exclusively on the grill will take more like 45 minutes. Make sure pre-cooked sausage has been thoroughly warmed through or that fresh sausage isn't served raw. Aim for an internal temperature of 165 F. A smoky char in the form of grill marks and light browning are other indications that the sausage has spent enough time on the grill.

Slice It

Slice precooked kielbasa in half lengthwise before grilling. This will result in sausage that has more of the smoky char and fit better into a bun. You may need to adjust cooking time slightly to accommodate the thinner slices. Do not slice fresh sausage in half if you plan to grill it from the raw state, but if you parboil it -- slice away.

No Drying Out

If you expect a lag time between cooking the sausage and serving it, consider grilling the sausage in a disposable aluminum pan surrounded by sauerkraut, juicy onions and peppers or another complementary sauce. You won't end up with the same grill marks, but you will have a juicy, flavorful meal.

Alternatively, heat the sauerkraut separately and place the grilled sausages into it right after they're done cooking. This will keep them warm and juicy, but still give you the browning you're after.

Blend the two options as a final alternative. Place the sausage on a moderate- to high-heat grill for just a few minutes per side to develop grill marks. Then place the sausages into the disposable pan with kraut, onions and peppers or broth and onions to continue to cook on the grill until they reach 165 F.

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